Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos has joined a raft of critics denouncing the decision to award Lionel Messi to 2021 Ballon d’Or.
The Paris Saint-Germain forward collected a record seventh gong after winning last season’s Pichichi Trophy for Barcelona and lifting his first piece of international silverware with Argentina, claiming the Golden Boot as his nation won Copa America.
Despite his success both at club and international level, many were outraged that Robert Lewandowski was overlooked, with the Bayern Munich striker finishing second to Messi in the final points tally, earning 580 to the Argentinian’s winning score of 613.
The outrage extends from last year’s award, which looked destined to embellish Lewandowski’s mantlepiece after he top scored in the Bundesliga, Champions League and DFB-Pokal during 2020, but France Football decided to cancel the award due to the pandemic.
Lewandowski has continued his ridiculous scoring streak this year to recently break Gerd Muller’s record for most goals in a single Bundesliga season, but Kroos wouldn’t have selected the Polish striker this year, nor Messi, believing Real team-mate Karim Benzema should have taken home the award.
“It’s absolutely not deserved,” Kroos said of Messi winning the 2021 Ballon d’Or on his official podcast.
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“There is no doubt that Messi, with Cristiano [Ronaldo], has been the player of the last decade, but this year there should’ve been others ahead of him.
“For me, Karim would have been the number one if you were really looking for the best individual player of the last year, because I can see from close quarters what an outstanding footballer he is.”
During 2021 so far, Benzema is one of just two players to score over 20 goals and register over 10 assists in Europe’s top five leagues, joining Messi in that category, showing the Frenchman is far more than an out-and-out striker alone.
Despite earning plaudits for his playmaker exploits at Real, Benzema currently sits fourth in the overall scoring charts for 2021 in Europe’s top five leagues (26), ahead of Messi (24), but below Lewandowski (38), Dusan Vlahovic (29) and Erling Haaland (27).